Damascus steel anyone had a go at making it?

  1. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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    I started to get interested in working hot steel over 30years ago when I saw my first Damascus steel blade, but I've never actually got round to trying to make it until recently. I've been playing with old band saw blades at work the first pic is my first attempt a mix of narrow blades off the wood saw and wider off the steel saw. Lots of delaminations but over all not bad for my first attempt. The second attempt went straight in the bin for what ever reason it just didn't weld. The paper knife is my 3rd attempt its just narrow blades. Over all its a good solid chunk of steel but there is virtually no pattern to be seen without a magnifying glass. My fourth attempt is wide blades and two pieces of steel off a circular steel saw blade that was a big chunk of steel that has issues, but I haven't had time to grind it yet. I think my biggest problem is our forge at work is designed to get hot, but not get hot enough to burn steel and I don't think I'm getting the heat in to it. 20190709_070223.jpg 20190709_071530.jpg
     
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  2. pedrobedro

    pedrobedro Man at Matalan

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    What have you used to etch it after forging ? It might just need something strong like ferric chloride. I would like a forge to have a go, probably at some chainsaw Damascus.
     
  3. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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    I usr ferric chloride, I'd practice on plane steel before trying a chain.
     
  4. hareng Member

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    With a deep coke forge your borderline generating enough heat low down. Ideally want white heat where the steel will start to fizz.
    Only tried it the once at work 17 years ago with a chap that now demos at Black Country Museum, its a lot of work even if your setup to do so.
    We aimed for a steel block 4" x 3" x 2 1/2" for a job, came out ok once we got it rectangular to machine and file up. Took two of us several hours then had more than enough taking 10 mins of heat each time. Making sword blades they work in gangs of 5 or more to give you some idea and why you cant cut corners needing at least 20 full on folds.
    Better to buy it in even if it isnt the true Damascus often sold.
     
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  5. bigegg

    bigegg I drink and I know things. Its what I do.

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    i made a piece about 25 years ago: a piece of 1" (? - maybe bigger) lift cable from a derelict (pre war) coal pit, about 12"long.
    the trick is/was to weld the ends together, then untwist and fill with borax slurry before getting to white hot and getting it under the flypress/power hammer.

    i got enough out of it to make a tanto sized blade: about 8" tip to tang.

    or at least i thought i had.
    :-(

    it delaminated upon grinding/sharpening and ended up in the scrap bin.
    never tried since.
     
  6. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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    We've got a power hammer, a 10 ton press and a 50 ton press coming soon. With a bit of luck my boss is also buying an induction heater that will definitely get the steel hot enough.
     
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  7. hotponyshoes Member

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    It's a slow process but you can make it in a gas forge if you have too.
    Use a stiff wire brush to clean the sides to be welded then dust with flux then fold together. After heating you want to weld them really quickly. Most people I have seen mess it up take it out of the fire then faff about picking up the hammer and what not. You need to drag it out and start smashing it before it cools. It should be burning when you take it out and you will get a mighty splash of sparks when you hit it. If it's not splashing out sparks it's too cold so needs to be cleaned off and go back in again.

    The pattern mainly comes from using 2 or more different types of steel. If you use something like a thick and a thin hacksaw blade you are not going to get much pattern as the steel compounds are both going to be similar or the same so you won't get any contrast when you etch it.
    If both hacksaw blades are the same compound then you should not actually get any pattern. All you will see is flaws in the weld lines so if you do get a good pattern it's probably going to fall apart!

    It's pretty specialised stuff to choose the types of steel but something like a hacksaw blade or old file/rasp mixed with an old stainless steel kitchen knife from a car boot sale will give good contrast. That way you can have a practice and see what effect folding / twisting / knotting will have before you buy any special material and waste it
     
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  8. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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  9. chunkolini

    chunkolini celebrity artiste

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  10. Mick Annick

    Mick Annick Member

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    Have a look at Alec Steele on YouTube, he’s a bit annoying but is good at making Damascus stell
     
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  11. Kent

    Kent Member

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    There are certain steels that weld and etch better than others. Its just about getting it to full on temp when your working with tool or high carbon steels.
    Strike while the iron is hot! And hot means almost but not wuite sparking
    Grind scale off and flux removes contaminates, its not some sort of magic glue.
    I do it but i dont get the advantages claimed because carbon migration tends to play off badly against the aleged Damascus cutting effect. As regards knife making anyhow
    I follow a guy on Instagram whodoes some drop dead pretty jewelry in demascus though.
    Proper borax flux is hard to get in Europe because its restricted for allegedly making folks infertile (like i care at 50 eith two offspring). Never effected our grandparents and gt grandparents etc who washed thier clothes with it.
     
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  12. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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    I've got borax that seems to work OK, at the moment it's down to not enough heat, but it's looking good for us getting an induction heater. Next on my list to try is mokume from brass and copper and then titanium damascus.
     
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  13. ronan

    ronan Member

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  14. jordan1 Member

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    Have a watch at 'Forged in Fire', on Blaze channel I think it is, some of the guys on there make some nice Damascus blades.
     
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  15. outofthefire

    outofthefire Member

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    1,969
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    I know how to make it, I asked if anyone had tried themselves.
     
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  16. ronan

    ronan Member

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    Nope, but its a material that interests me. I have an old high-end shotgun with damascus barrels, and it has a beautiful pattern. Wonder how it machines ?
     
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  17. jordan1 Member

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    Your post indicates that you were not having real success, thought you may get some pointers.
     
  18. TechnicAl

    TechnicAl Member

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    There are lots of myths and old wives tales about Damascus Steel but to make it properly you need Wootz Steel which is sort of a superior wrought iron. It has very high carbon and therefore has layers of cementite which form the patterns.
    There are modern steels that will perform the mythical performances of Damascus steel....without the pretty patterms....but if its the patterns you want you could try high carbon steel.
     
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  19. ronan

    ronan Member

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    8,333
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    I have heard the best damascus for use in gun barrels, was old horseshoe nails believe it or not. The old nails were straightened, heated to red heat and beaten together end to end until they were in strips, and when the strips were done, were twisted together while red hot and beaten into a solid bar or twisted around a mandrel. Very labour intensive.
     
  20. Wonderweaver New Member

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    17
    Location:
    Manchester
    1095 and 1520 stacked ,heated then beaten to whatever shape /tool your making.
     
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